How I Surprised Myself By Sharing My Car & Time With Strangers

November 21

(This is text from an email I sent out this weekend.)

In 2014 I attended a Radical Leadership Retreat. It was a fantastic experience. I left better equipped to make decisions and take my life in a more intentional direction.

Sometimes, in the past, people would try to tell me – “You can make whatever you want of your life.” – and I would think ‘Yeah, right.”

Since attending RL, I see it’s true – because I picked up more than the idea, I picked up tools that helped me shape my life and my business into more of what I want.

Quite naturally, I’ve used bits and pieces of RL while coaching my business clients and have seen a lot of good things happen with them.

Fast forward to August of this year. I said yes to an opportunity to become Certified in using the Radical Leadership tools.

It was easy to say yes. I’m a yes to ‘More of this for me please!’ and I’m a yes to being better equipped to serve my clients.

RL Certification will last six months – I promise to come back and tell you more of my experiences when it’s over. Today though, I’ve got to share one thing that’s been really fun.

One of our tasks as participants is to keep a journal. Back at the beginning of October, our facilitators asked us to journal ‘ways we surprised ourselves today’.

I found this frustrating. Obviously I wasn’t surprising myself that much ;)

The following week, a new twist: ‘Do something to intentionally surprise yourself!’

Oh crap. We had to know that was coming, right?

How do you ‘intentionally surprise’ yourself?

Well, I was traveling home from Florida in mid-October. I flew to Detroit, shuttled to East Lansing and took my first Uber ride to my apartment.

(If you haven’t taken an Uber ride before, it’s all done on your smart phone with the Uber App.)

The App gave me a notice that they were looking for Uber drivers in my area.

The thought bubbled right up. ‘Well, now that would be surprising!’

The next day, I signed up for Uber. Maybe, I thought, just signing up will be surprising enough?

I submitted my papers – it was easy as pie. You just snap pics of your license, registration and insurance, etc.

There was a bit of a delay from there. As I waited, I found myself feeling more curious about it. I decided if I did get activated, I would definitely take at least one ride.

My activation notice came on the Thursday before Halloween – along with an alert from Uber. “There’s big money to be made this weekend!”

See, I live near MSU. With the Halloween holiday AND a MSU/Michigan State Football game going on, they expected record demand for Ubers.

Hmm. I wasn’t in this for the money, so I thought “Well, I’m going to take at least one – then we’ll see ;)”

I took my car to the wash and gave it a good detailing, filled it up with gas, got myself a bottle of water, some gum, mints and kleenex – and headed for campus.

My first Uber ride alert came within minutes. I picked up a Senior from her off campus apartment and dropped her off down town East Lansing. It was about 5pm and the city was flooded with kids in costumes.

I learned that the Greek Society hosted a ‘Safe Halloween’ and the entire downtown area participated with trick or treat.

Another ride alert. Another student going from dorm to a Halloween activity.

Another ride alert. A bundle of sorority girls headed to run one of the kid’s booths.

Every time I drove back into downtown, it seemed like there were more kids. Traffic was slow, so I could enjoy their cute costumes. I just grinned ear to ear.

This was really fun :)

I ended up driving all evening and into the night. I was dizzyingly lost on campus and relied on the Uber GPS and helpful student riders to keep from going in helpless circles.

I couldn’t wait to see who jumped in my car next. Their youthful excitement, the silly conversations, the curious questions about me being an Uber driver. (They weren’t at all used to seeing a middle aged woman behind the wheel.)

I took 33 trips that night. I earned $121.

I went back out Friday, Saturday – starting later at night, taking 15 rides each time – and earned another $50o-ish. (Uber rates increase as demand rises – making holidays and special events super lucrative.)

It wasn’t about the money – it was about being surprised by how much I enjoyed it all. Still, the money was cool and I did end up spending it on a special gift for myself. (A Smart TV that’s been on my wish list for awhile.)

I’ve driven a few times since that weekend. I discovered (surprised myself to learn) that I like getting out of the house like this. I like spending short chunks of time with the riders.

With a long winter here in Michigan, no travel planned until March – heading out to Uber for a bit is an adventure outside of my usual environment.

I’ve gotten some blow back about this. Some of my family feel it’s a dangerous activity. A couple of friends have expressed concern that it sends a weird message to my community… perhaps that driving for Uber makes me look ‘broke and desperate’.

I can see why folks think what they do. I’ve assured family that I’m safe and careful. As far as what someone thinks about my Uber driving from a financial point of view – that’s about them. Not me. Amen? Amen!

I’m 50. I’ve got an ’empty nest’, a precious Grandbaby to enjoy and still plenty of free time to use as I wish BECAUSE my business rocks and gives me flexibility :)

Being curious, trying something new, realizing you love it – this is GOOD STUFF.

What if I asked you to journal over the next week – writing down ways you surprise yourself? Would you do it? Would you share the results with me?


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